Monday, 18 May 2020

BUSINESS BACKS INDEFINITE LOCKDOWN


Business leaders yesterday supported President Mnangagwa’s decision to extend the national Covid-19 lockdown indefinitely but at level two with periodic reviews fortnightly, saying the policy would save both lives and the economy.

The national lockdown has helped the country keep the number of Covid-19 confirmed cases at low levels but the Government has, by moving up from level four to level two, allowed large swathes of the economy to reopen under tight conditions that minimise risk.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industry president Mr Henry Ruzvidzo said industrialists were supportive of the move to avoid worst situations as witnessed in the United States and Europe. 

“Essentially the President said the lockdown will be reviewed after every two weeks but we are happy that most of the industry is now running,” he said.

“This cautious approach is something we need to support. The main challenge that we are facing as industry is to get our workers to work on time due to the restrictions in the transport sector. This pandemic has to be handled with caution and we need to support all efforts being undertaken by Government to contain it.”

Zimbabwe Farmers Union director Mr Paul Zakariya said remaining at level 2 of the Covid-19 lockdown for an indefinite period ensured that the country minimised infections.

He said if properly followed, the lockdown measures would see the nation recording huge successes in the containment of the pandemic. 

“However, agriculture and agribusinesses, which rely on both formal and informal markets for survival, will take a knock for the foreseeable future. This means that, going forward, it will not be business as usual,” said Mr Zakariya.


Agricultural business models that ensure that public health concerns are prioritised will have to be explored. Both inputs and output markets will need to be re-organised to meet the requirements of what will be our new normal.

“Our farmers will be required to adapt and adopt new ways of doing business. Organised farming that will see farmers pooling their resources to work together in the form of cooperatives, private companies and other forms, will save the day.”

Zimbabwe Council for Tourism Business President Ms Winnie Muchanyuka said although the decision was to save lives, there was need for monitored inter-city travel to be allowed if tourism was to survive.

“We can approach this from two angles. Our revival in the short term relies on domestic tourism, so we expect to see more movement so that our players can generate and earn something,” she said.

“Until travel business from source countries returns after the current travel restrictions, our focus will be on local players. We will continue to lobby Government to allow travel so there can be domestic tourism even at a minimal scale to avoid total business collapse in the sector.

“Most of our operators are struggling. They are not operating save for a few players like ZimSun and Cresta who have a few hotels open. The rest are closed. We are optimistic about the proposition that private players can provide quarantine services. A lot of our players are interested and are in the process of being assessed by authorities. That may save a lot of jobs and companies.”

Tanganda Tea finance director Mr Henry Nemaire said the extension of the lockdown was necessary.

“All formal businesses have been allowed to resume operations. Informal economic players should explore syndicating under one organised business and using one fiscalised invoicing system.”

Businessman and former Arda chairman Mr Basil Nyabadza said the country was not yet out of danger and the extension was necessary.

“We are not yet out of the woods and if we look around at neighbouring countries, they appear to be struggling and it’s important that we maintain a very vigilant approach to Covid-19,” said Mr Nyabadza.

“However, there is also the economy and I believe that we must also have to look after the economy because it has long term consequences. The best way to look after it is to review the way we pay labour across the board, from managerial to lower jobs. The best way is not to pay hourly rates. That will ensure productivity and viability. This is important because the Zimbabwe economy is under illegal sanctions and the best way to fight those sanctions is to step up productivity.” Herald

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